Samsung’s Support for Creative Economy

2013-05-15

Samsung Group announced that it will invest a total of 1.5 trillion won (almost 1.35 billion U.S. dollars) over the next ten years to start a foundation promoting future technologies, a plan that aims to support President Park Geun-hye’s “creative economy” policy. Samsung’s plan is applauded because it indicates the nation’s largest conglomerate’s willingness to enthusiastically participate in the government’s key economic strategy. Samsung’s action is expected to be emulated by other private companies.

Samsung Future Technology Promotion Foundation

Samsung’s chief communication officer Rhee In-yong said at Monday’s briefing that the foundation is being established to promote the nation’s industrial technology development and innovation by providing steady and systematic support to the government at this crucial time when the nation needs to discover new growth engines and prepare for the future. The Samsung Future Technology Promotion Foundation will be established in June. The conglomerate will first invest 300 billion won (roughly 270 million U.S. dollars) this year and a total of 750 billion won (almost 675 million U.S. dollars) over the following five years, until 2017. After a progress review, another 675 million dollars will be poured into the foundation until 2022. The Foundation will oversee three major programs that involve the government’s creative economy policy – cultivating scientists for future Nobel Prizes in science, promoting materials technology, and supporting innovative projects based on integrated information and communications technologies.

Three Major Programs

The first program entails discovering and supporting fresh-minded and promising scientists in four basic fields of science – physics, chemistry, bioscience, and mathematics – and innovative leaders in such fields who are deemed Nobel-caliber scientists. In the first phase of the program, 250 billion won (225 million dollars) will be invested to find between 100 and 200 challenging projects in colleges and public and private institutions. The second program, promoting materials technology, is aimed at supporting all research phases, from discovery and design of an original technology, to its processing and commercialization of the outcomes. The Foundation will support all ICT integration research projects, aiming to develop creative technologies, products, and services that will provide new values and pioneer new markets. The programs will be announced in June and projects will be received until July. The Foundation will select projects in October and start providing all-out assistance in November.

Sparking Industrial Support for the Creative Economy Policy

Samsung has been very cautious in its expenditure this year and has delayed the announcement of its investment plans, citing the on-going economic slump and uncertain external factors. So the announcement of a foundation supporting the creative economy is regarded as “a meaningful change in its attitude.” Samsung has been working hard to discover new growth engines for the past few years, so the conglomerate is looking to back the government, given that the internal management strategy is judged to complement the government’s “creative economy.” The investment plan is also seen as the beginning of the corporate support for the government’s creative economy policy. Previously, President Park Geun-hye was accompanied by a host of business leaders during her visit to the U.S. Business insiders had predicted that the President’s consideration for Korea’s private companies would be rewarded with “reciprocal gifts” from the business sector, and true to that projection, the nation’s biggest group has come up with a plan to establish a foundation. It is, therefore, expected that other private conglomerates will soon follow Samsung’s footsteps and propose investment plans for the creative economy. Adding credence to the anticipation, Vice Chairman of the Federation of Korean Industries, Lee Seung-cheol, said at a briefing of the presidential visit to the U.S. that a few corporate groups are preparing their own projects and we should wait for them to surface one by one.

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